Christmas Tree Dress 2014 DIY - The Countess' New Gown

Dovima in Balenciaga, December 1950. Photo: Richard Avedon
This year's inspiration for the Countess' Christmas gown came from a photograph of Dovima in a Crystobal Balenciaga gown. Dovima could wear a burlap potato sack and make it look glamorous, so in the spirit of the 1950s supermodel, I designed a bustier gown with a full skirt for my spirit friend.

 After protecting my mannequin, I used chicken wire to create a stiff skirt to support the heavy and full skirt of greenery. 

 Starting from the bottom, I weave the branches through the chicken wire.

So my trees wouldn't suffer too much, I used different types of evergreen.

I like the different shades of green.

Evergreen branches are not slimming so I did some clipping.

To give more definition to the bodice, I used a thin black wire and wrapped it around the 
waist and rib cage.

 I covered the shoulder and neck with pages of an the old hymn book. I gave the the Countess a statement necklace using dried orange peels shaped like roses. 

Here we are, all natural except for the needle pine in the skirt, the sparkly leaves and cranberries in the necklace.

Just like a real Christmas tree, the house smells wonderful.

The Christmas gown won't stay in the house for very long - too tempting for the dogs. 
It will have to go outside on the front porch where it will stay green and fresh for the squirrels to hide their walnuts.

Come back later for the Countess' headdress.

Christmas Decoration 2014 - DIY Tissue Paper Lantern

This year, I went with a bold red statement. It's an easy, low-cost project that creates a big impact. Rather time-consuming and repetitive, I did it in stages to relieve the boredom. 

I used one of my paper lantern for a base and covered it with red tissue paper using a homemade mixture of white glue and water. I cut many tissue disks and made simple little flowers, gathering and twisting the centre to create a stem.

I made a whole bunch of flowers while watching TV at night and then glued them the next morning.
I repeated this process over several days to cover my two lanterns.
I first used a glue stick, but switched to spray glue soon after. A shop stick to press the flower down into the glue was useful.

I ended up with a ball measuring 60" in circumference.

It now hangs from my entrance medallion.

My daughter contributed to decorative details, such as a fairy, dragonfly, leaves and branches to suspend the ball…

and she made a lovely paper garland using pages of an old and damaged hymn book. 

Hanging from the bottom, a glass ball that Astrid painted when she was a tiny fairy.

The dining room chandelier was also given the bold red treatment with a smaller tissue ball measuring 41" in circumference.

The little acrobat fairies are back, but this year I've added paper-cut snowflakes and garland.

I also made paper snowflakes to hang in the library, made from the pages of the old hymn book. I waxed the snowflakes so they would stay flat and firm. To wax them I used two used dryer sheets for each snowflake. The snowflake is sandwiched between the two dryer sheets, I then iron them on a low setting. There's just enough wax left on those sheets and the snowflakes smell good as well. Use an old iron or protect your good one by placing a thin cloth or paper over your work.

Come back to see this year's Christmas cedar dress.